University student Ed Farmer's 'initiation-style' death caused by 'toxic effects' of alcohol

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

A university student who collapsed after an "initiation-style" event died from the "toxic effects" of excessive alcohol, a coroner has ruled.

Ed Farmer, who had taken part in an Agricultural Society event at Newcastle University, showed a lack of awareness to the "inherent risks" of binge drinking.

An inquest into the 20-year-old's death at Newcastle Civic Centre heard that the 20-year-old had drunk alcohol served in a pig's head.

CCTV footage from the event which Mr Farmer attended. Credit: Police handout
Mr Farmer's (on floor) family gave permission for the CCTV to be released. Credit: Police handout

The student, from Leicester, was one of around 30 people to take part in the event in December 2016, which saw participants go on a bar crawl through the city centre, with some of them later having their heads shaved.

The group was also forced to bob apples in a bucket of urine.

Coroner Karen Dilks heard how the excess alcohol caused Mr Farmer to suffer a cardiac arrest, prompting brain damage and his eventual death at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Mr Farmer was a first-year student at Newcastle University. Credit: PA

Around 20 first-years attended the event, and witnesses described "older students" ordering a round of 100 triple vodkas during the bar crawl.

They then proceeded to the home of James Carr, the society's chairman at the time, where Mr Farmer was found collapsed and unresponsive in the early hours of December 13.

He was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead at 5.30am.

Calling on the university to implement more forceful inductions on the dangers of alcohol for first-year students, coroner Dilks said Mr Farmer had been "nervous" about attending the event.

She added that a copy of her report would be made available to Newcastle University and its students' union, as well as to Universities UK, the Department for Education and the Department of Health.

Addressing the family, she said: "I extend my sincere condolences for your loss".

Mr Farmer's father, Jeremy, said that the family had been "devastated" his death.

He also criticised Newcastle University and the Students' Union for an "apparent lack" of effort to bring about change to so-called initiations.

"We have found it acutely painful to learn about the complete lack of understanding of all the students who organised and accompanied Ed during that fateful event on the 12 Dceember 2016," Mr Farmer said.

"Of the dangers associated with drinking excessive amounts of alcohol within a short period of time."

Mr Farmer added that family were "utterly underwhelmed" at Newcastle University "not wanting to get to heart of student initiations".

Newcastle University say they have clamped down on initiations.